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FAREWELL, MY CONCUBINE (1993, CHN) Movie review, plot, trailer, rating

This epic historical drama won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, in which we follow historical events in China from the 1920s to the 1970s from the perspective of two best friends and actors in traditional opera. But “Goodbye my concubine” is as much a historical melodrama as it is a classic melodrama about the fate, life, love, happiness and unhappiness of two men who met as boys, and their paths constantly connected through life. razilazili. Kaige Chen filmed “Farewell My Concubine” based on the novel of the same name by Lilian Lee, and it is interesting that for the role of one of the actors in the opera, feminized, gentle, timid and sensitive Cheng Diei, the main candidate was Jackie Chan. He was turned down by the actor we remember best for his roles in casual action roles, a role that would be significantly different from anything he played in his career, and in the end, the equally popular actor and singer of the time Leslie Cheung was hired for the role.

We actually meet Cheng Diei as a somewhat feminized boy, Douzi, in 1924, when his prostitute mother took him to a Beijing opera for boys run by a strict Master Guan. Shitou, who is the complete opposite, will later make friends with the new, withdrawn boy, and ten years later the two will become champions of traditional Chinese opera and take on the stage names Cheng Dieyi and Duan Xiaolou (Fengy Zhang). Eh now, Chinese or Beijing traditional opera is something completely different from what we usually think of when someone mentions opera. This art form could most simply be described as a stage performance that combines music, singing, acting, dancing and acrobatics, and consists of four basic roles: master / ruler, lady / concubine, bully and clown, and all roles are played by men.


Thus, the feminized boy Douzi will become the biggest star by playing a female role or concubine, while the corpulent, strong, determined Shitou will become famous in the role of a hero. And they will both be celebrated and adored, but as times change, first with the Japanese occupation, then the civil war and then the arrival of the Communists and finally the Mao Cultural Revolution when traditional Beijing opera is declared a legacy of feudalism and the bourgeoisie, so will it change. their life situations. Although one of the leading filmmakers is the so-called the fifth generation of Chinese film Chen Kaige covered with “Goodbye my concubine” a truly great historical period, it is a powerful and powerful film with which we get a great insight into this truly revolutionary modern Chinese history.

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In addition, it is a film of great visuals in which Chen perfectly revived this almost forgotten traditional art form that started back in the middle of the 17th century. Also, it will soon become clear to us that Cheng Dieyi is a homosexual who suppresses his preferences even though it is obvious that he feels something more than friendship towards his partner from stage Duan. But Duan sees only friends in Dieyji and the dynamics between them will change further when he decides to marry the beautiful prostitute Juxian, who was embodied by the then leading Chinese actress Gong Li. In addition, both actors behave quite recklessly and do not bother too much with the political situation that is constantly changing around them. They act like actors, as if they are above everything that happens around them so Dieyi will do many reckless things during the Japanese occupation while Duan is a guy who can’t be teased by anyone regardless of nationality and political preferences.


In addition to Chen Kaige winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes (more precisely, he shared it with Jane Campion and her “Piano”), the film was nominated for two Oscars – for Best Foreign Language Film and for Best Photography. It is the photography here that is exceptional and it is a film that really captures attention with its visuals, colors, colors, excellent scenography and choreography. Although “Farewell My Concubine” was hailed by world critics as one of the best Chinese films of all time, it had a lot of problems domestically because the censorship committee briefly withdrew it from the cinema for depicting homosexuality, suicide and violence during Mao’s cultural revolution. It is an extremely ambitious film, but ambitious with a lot of coverage that deals with a complex topic in a quality and well-thought-out and rounded way. Rating 9/10.


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